Thematic Reading List: Kids Can Too! Books for the Littlest Activists
Any person can be an activist, even young children. Creating a classroom library or home bookshelf with books about various activists or causes can peak a child’s interest in how he or she can impact the world. Below are 10 books to help build your activism collection.
Contributed by: Elizabeth Bridges
|A is for Activist
By: Innosanto Nagara
A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for. The alliteration, rhyming, and vibrant illustrations make the book exciting for children, while the issues it brings up resonate with their parents’ values of community, equality, and justice. This engaging little book carries huge messages as it inspires hope for the future, and calls children to action while teaching them a love for books.
|Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909
By: Michelle Markel
Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet
An account of immigrant Clara Lemlich’s pivotal role in the influential 1909 women laborer’s strike. It describes how she worked grueling hours to acquire an education and support her family before organizing a massive walkout to protest the unfair working conditions in New York’s garment district.
|Drop by Drop
By: Peace, and Human Development USCCB Department of Justice
Illustrated by: Carrie Gowran
In a village in Burkina Faso, Sylvie is unable to attend school because it takes her several hours every day to collect the water her family needs from the river. She is excited to learn from Mr. Mike of the Catholic Relief Services that her village has been chosen for a special Water Project to dig a well for the village.
|For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s story
By: Rebecca Langston-George
Illustrated by: Janna Bock
Malala Yousafzai’s harrowing story of standing up for girls’ education against the Taliban, being shot in the head, and surviving to continue the fight. Through her blog, she became the voice of young women everywhere who are oppressed and living under a rule of law that does not allow women to pursue education.
|The Little Book of Little Activists
By: Penguin Young Readers
Filled with inspiring photos of children at the Women’s March on Washington and other protests and rallies, this book also includes inspirational quotes, simple ideas for how kids can get involved, brief definitions of concepts like “equality” and “feminism,” and an introduction from a leading activist who’s making a difference in the world today.
|Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World
By: Susan Hood
Illustrated by: Various illustrators
A poetic and visual celebration of 14 extraordinary young women who became trail-blazers in various walks of life.
|Start Now!: You Can Make A Difference
By: Chelsea Clinton
Bullying, climate change, endangered species, health, and hunger are all problems that need activists and Clinton helps young readers understand how they can make a difference in not only their communities but globally.
|That’s Not Fair!: Emma Tenayuca’s struggle for justice
By: Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca
Illustrated by: Terry Ybanez
A biography of Emma Tenayuca, who, in 1938, led 12,000 poor Mexican-American workers in a strike for better wages and living conditions. Told in both English and Spanish.
|The Wedding Portrait
By: Innosanto Nagara
The author’s wedding portrait is used as an example of how to get involved even when breaking the rules is the right thing to do. It also serves as a springboard for discussion of various protests around the world.
|The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist
By: Cynthia Levinson
Illustrated by: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was used to hearing discussions about the civil rights movement, seeing as Fred Shuttlesworth, Jim Bevel, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were often dinner guests in her home. Believing she could make a difference too, Audrey marched with other children in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. She and the other children were arrested and spent a week in jail, which is depicted in the illustrations.